Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Bipolar Disorder My Biggest Competitor by Amy Gamble


Just like in a boxing ring, Amy took many blows but still won


This memoir is not only captivating to me because it sheds so much light on mental illness especially on bipolar disorder; but it is equally captivating because of the author’s life and journey itself. With this said, I confess that once I started reading this soulful and resourceful memoir,  I didn’t put it down until I finished. It took me 8 hours to read, I was on the go and actually grateful for the traffic.

This is a memoir which shares the author’s resilence as she in her own words ‘refuse to relinquish the title of my life to mental illness’. A game of basketball or team handball or raquetball is easy to play because there are clear rules of the game. No matter how fierce the competition in these games, you know after the game life goes on and you can compete in other encounters and lose with dignity or win why not. No, not with mental illness. First of all it is no game although it plays you around like on a chess board. Secondly, if to be compared to any game, it is in my opinion best like boxing. Amy herself tells how in the ring with bipolar disorder, ‘my face was bloody, my eyes blackened, my nose broken, and my pride destroyed’. The bravado here is that: ‘Each time I got knocked down, I got back up again’.

Amy Gamble is an Olympian and so staying on top of her game, being in good spirits and shape were very important to her. Indeed, when the signs and symptoms started setting in, so too did denial big time. Who Me? No way was her fierce reasoning. Yes mental illness could run in her family even if never talked about you know, yes she could burst with such unquenchable energy to literally move mountains and other times sink into such debilitating depression, but no she couldn’t come to terms with the words bipolar disorder. The erratic life and actions on the spur in several instances, the wanderings and all which caused her two painful run ins with the law and a sting in jail not to talk of the massive financial and emotional devastation still didn’t sink in well with her. She near gave up especially after losing so many close people like her dad and co, her loyal dogs and even some invaluable relationships.

At the 8th or 9th round, the bloodied athlete in her through a series of divine interventions and other circumstances, started to recover. She looked her opponent in the eye, felt the bruises through her body, spirit and soul, grieved for what was and what should have been, and then gave her opponent the final blow. I say final blow because even though bipolar disorder is still out there and can rear up its dragon self anytime, Amy is fully prepared for any further competitions. The light Amy Gamble sheds on mental illness not only lightens our paths but hers above all.

About Amy Gamble

Amy Gamble

Amy Gamble is a small town girl who has always had big time dreams. She followed those dreams all the way to the Olympic Games. Facing competitors on a world stage, she learned how determination could overcome all the odds against her. Amy needed that strength and those lessons when she faced the biggest challenge in her life-bipolar disorder. Amy is now the Executive Director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Greater Wheeling. She is a Certified Mental Health First Aid instructor and a mental health speaker. Amy has over 18 years experience working for Fortune 500 companies in sales, marketing and leadership. Amy has a M.A. in Organizational Management and a B.A. in Communication. Her mission in life is to help those who live with mental illness and their family members find help and hope. She strives to eliminate stigma by sharing openly her struggles and triumphs of living with bipolar disorder and educating audiences of all ages.

postscript

I am very honoured to write this review. When I discovered Amy’s blog and reached out to her to write a forward to my own memoir about my mental challenges, she did so the same day. I didn’t know Amy was past 50 years, she looks like 45 at most. Amy’s story is indeed a captivating one, the closest to any celebrity’s own I have read about their journey and battle with mental illness.

An interesting editorial Review (found on the amazon)

“Amy Gamble is a champion for mental health, advocating for awareness, improved care and the removal of stigma. In her book, she painstakingly describes the details of her own battle with bipolar disorder that led her from the U.S. Olympic team to a prosperous career for a top Fortune 500 company to a small jail cell in Montana and — eventually — to recovery. Amy’s firsthand experiences with the obstacles of our own health care and justice systems are chilling. And just when you think her nightmare has to be over, it starts all over again. You come to understand that mental illness truly levels the field: No amount of money, prestige or physical strength can protect you from it. But her survival instinct, her faith in God, and the work ethic she developed growing up on a West Virginia farm and honed as an Olympic athlete kept her trudging onward through her darkest days. The book is in part a cautionary tale — a “what not to do” — for the health care industry, as well as for families of those who are mentally ill and sick individuals themselves. Above all, it is a story of Amy’s redemption, a reclaiming of the life she thought she lost and the emerging of a true champion who dares to dream again. Mental illness won far too many battles in Amy’s life, but through her own education, proper care and sheer determination, she won the war. By sharing her story, she has ensured that her struggles were not in vain and many people will benefit from her victory.”      –Betsy Bethel, Life Editor, The Intelligencer and WheWheelingNews-Register

 

My Son’s book review of A Searching Soul by Marie Abanga (Me)


Alain's review SS

Kindle Cover

This is the first review of my poetry book which is on the amazon at the very afordable price of 0.89$ for kindle and 5 $ for paperback.

Thank you so much my e family and big shout out to all the authors in the house especially Pamela Spiro Wagner whose poetry reading I just so love, and  Dyane Leshin-Harwood whose epic memoir will be released very soon.

Books build my brain best


I miss blogging and just wanted to share what am doing other than gallivanting at the beach or enjoying village fraicheur… Yep am reading as much as I can. I have discovered a fellow Cameroonian author and wow what a dynamite discovery…

When am fully back here I’ll do a post or two more about this awesome author and his over 7 books…

Till then, all the best…

My Son’s Book Review of Born a Crime by Trevor Noah


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My excitement at getting this book is now solidified by my son’s soulful summary

Born a Crime Review by Alain Michel

Please click on the link it is to a pdf document

He wrote that review on the 6th of June which was one of those days for me, as well as the poem I shared here previously too. That date now means so much more to me, and am seriously and sincerely so grateful.

Thank you all for reading,  he will read your comments on his review and see the likes too – He did read it and is currently reading the richest man in babylon and you can imagine how happy I am he is gradually discovering the wonders of books and poems right?

Book Review: Birth of a New Brain by Dyane Leshin-Harwood


Birth of a new brain cover

 

Mental illness is more often than not associated with incompetence, fragility, frugality, vulnerability, undesirability: I don’t make that association however, and memoirs like Dyane’s make a pale of those who think a mentally ill is a ‘no good’! 

May is mental health awareness month and I have the honour of furthering my mental health awareness month with a book review. Dyane’s epic memoir of one of the ‘not so known’ mental illnesses is worth its weight in gold especially at this time when even Royalty is stepping up advocacy on mental health awareness.

Some stuffs I get from Dyane’s epic memoir:

We don’t care about those ‘lunatics’ because we are not them and no we can’t become them. Sometimes, and as in Dyane’s case, we so wish our sick ones well, but we don’t try to learn and understand what is going on. We don’t even know what or how to ask them any questions. It gets to a point where we look forward to either having them removed from our ‘normal’ existence, or forward to leaving them and going far away – be it for studies, work or just a fresh start. One thing I learnt from this memoir is that close or far, we can be so impacted by mental illness of a close one. Paradoxically, Dyane starts having troubling ‘mental issues’ after she’s left home and is on her own, although she had felt for so long before then that something ‘weird’ was going on.

And yet:

A lot of good things in my opinion happen to Dyane in between the time she leaves college and when her second child is born – the birth which sparks her postpartum bipolar disorder. She takes on different challenging jobs and meets a vast array of people most especially her ever supporting husband.

I am so interested to know what keeps her husband staying with her mindful of her seemingly ‘unappeasable’ mental illness and mental health altogether. Maybe she’ll write a second memoir about this. He from much indication in her memoir, is a care giver par excellence both to her and to the kids, juggling these all with his ever demanding job. People like her husband are to be celebrated because many with a mental illness are sooner or later abandoned even by their families and left at their own guise.

It is once more interesting to read in this memoir about the treatment mentally ill patients seem to attract. There are basically two types of treatment. You are either treated as a human being with an illness like every other (very rare), or most often, you treated with such stigma and near shunning altogether. Dyane even while very sick, can tell and appreciate when she is treated with empathy, and even sympathy. She also narrates the few times she’s treated like ‘one of them lunatics’. When you sometimes leave the hospital worse off than you get there; when you develop post hospitalizations trauma disorders which is another mental illness on its own.

All is not lost, after trying several different medications, nearly becoming a guinea pig of sorts; after trying to go off cold turkey not once but twice; after silently challenging one of her doctor’s sarcasm about alternative treatments; Dyane has come to find a balance between all of them. Even ECT wasn’t left out, she desperately needed a new brain – she’s courageously brought forth one and trying her best to nurture same.

My Appreciation:

Her narration is not only so funny at some points you wonder where she found some words and different styles she uses (oh yes she has a B.A. in English and American
Literature); her memoir also has helpful links and annexes. Her extensive biography below beats the ‘stigmatized notion of mentally ill as incompetent and losers’! I mean what dedication starting all over and over again, entering a contest hundreds of times, taking on difficult exams and the list goes on.

As some other advanced reviewers have already said, her memoir is a big bonus to the mental health community, – a community I dare advocate should concern all of ‘us’ because all the ‘thems’ we see today were once ‘us’ before. There is really no point for stigma which to me shows insecurity and fear of the unknown.

I without any reservation, recommend this memoir to all and sundry. I give it a 5/5 and can’t wait to receive my autographed copy come October. I need to have that physical copy on my shelf period!!!

About Dyane Leshin-Harwood

Dyane Harwood

Dyane Harwood is the author of the memoir “Birth of a New Brain – Healing
from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder” (Post Hill Press, October 10, 2017) with
a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw. She holds a B.A. in English and American
Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz. A freelance
writer for over two decades, she has interviewed bestselling authors
including Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Anthony Bourdain, and SARK.


Dyane had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of attending a writing weekend
conference taught by her favorite author, the late Madeleine L’Engle,
author of “A Wrinkle in Time.”  Dyane has written for The Huffington Post,
The Mighty, Postpartum Support International, Postpartum Progress, Anchor
Magazine, Fit Magazine, The International Society for Bipolar Disorders,
The International Bipolar Foundation, and The Stigma Fighters Anthology.
After founding a chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
(DBSA), she facilitated free support groups for mothers with mood
disorders for nine years.


Dyane lives in Ben Lomond, California with her husband Craig, their
daughters Avonlea and Marilla and their collie Lucy who serves as a
writing muse and sits on Dyane foot when she writes.

Dyane’s website: www.dyaneharwood.com
She blogs every Friday at Birth of a New Brain: 
www.proudlybipolarwordpress.
Birth of a New Brain Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Birth-of-a-New-Brain

You can find Dyane tweeting away on Twitter: @DyaneHarwood

Bibliotherapeutic: all the way from maralago


What better gift on another stressful day? My first son has malaria and the doctor was near appalling.

I now have to find time to do that book justice. I pray for traffic jams so I can read in the cab for hours lol

I mean with such an autograph… What can disturb your evening?

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If you want to find out why that sate is significant, get the epic book: am at 50% already I don’t know how am doing the reading lol

Update (26.04.17/ 3.05 pm)

  1. I just finished the super epic memoir; I have never laughed as hard when reading a memoir;
  2. As a single mother, Trevor’s tribute to his mother goes straight to my soul;
  3. I don’t know if I ‘ll get to doing a review, I think the book already has thousands of them on the amazon;
  4. My Son is fine and did attend some school today

 

A non bipolar related recommendation for Birth of a New Brain by Dyane Leshin-Harwood


the one and only Lucy
The one and only Miss Lucy

Hello world, take it from Lucy and I

I want to without much ado, give you at least 7 reasons why you should pre order or look out for the release of Darling Dyane’s epic memoir. That is, other than the fact that it made me have a wonderful day out, eat some ice cream with the boys at our dear icecream grandma’s, and laugh oh so much:

Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th.

Birth of a New Brain is available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales coming this summer!

Ok: Let’s get going:

  1. If you want to know how to act well enough to be selected for a role as kid: get the memoir;
  2. If you want to know how many times you should enter for a contest to win a sports car before giving up: get the memoir;
  3. If you never knew a dog could get a c-section and suffer a stroke and still be a ring bearer at a wedding: get the memoir;
  4. If you want to know how to avoid your broken heart from being quickly mended: get the memoir;
  5. If you want to know how to import a boyfriend and soon regret it enough to cameloen the colours of envy for months: get the memoir;
  6. If you want to know the best way to bribe a potential landlord (not with sex I emphasize); get the memoir;
  7. If you want to know how to prepare for and pass your massage therapist exams (not what you are thinking): get the memoir

And the biggest bonus

  • If you want to know how you can ‘flimpsily’ say  ‘it’s not my type” and to have to treasure that for life : get the memoir
  • and oh another medium bonus: I used to call my vip buddies my ‘PP’ meaning ‘Personal Person’ – but if you want to know what it truly stands for: get the memoir

I hope I haven’t given any spoilers away – men I laughed more than I should have when reading that memoir. Dyane was generous in making a large chunk of it about life and all before getting serious about the not funny subject matter of Postpartum Bipolar Disorder…

About Dyane Leshin-Harwood 

lady D

Dyane Harwood is the author of the memoir “Birth of a New Brain – Healing
from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder” (Post Hill Press, October 10, 2017) with
a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw. She holds a B.A. in English and American
Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz. A freelance
writer for over two decades, she has interviewed bestselling authors
including Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Anthony Bourdain, and SARK.

Dyane lives in Ben Lomond, California with her husband Craig, their
daughters Avonlea and Marilla and their collie Lucy who serves as a
writing muse and sits on Dyane foot when she writes.

Dyane’s website: www.dyaneharwood.com
She blogs every Friday at Birth of a New Brain: 
www.proudlybipolarwordpress.
Birth of a New Brain Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Birth-of-a-New-Brain

You can find Dyane tweeting away on Twitter: @DyaneHarwood

Have you ever had to go out of town just to savour a book? Introducing Birth of a New Brain by Dyane Leshin-Harwood


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My kindle and I, my kindle & I… oh what a wonderful treasure…

Dear world, last week while on a brief blogging break, I was excited to receive the ARC (Advanced review copy) of my lady Dyane’s forthcoming memoir. I got it in my email on Wednesday night, and tried to start reading it on Thursday. With the boys ha, I can’t find the time to read at home so I read on the go as in when stuck in traffic. But when the book you browse promises to be one so full and pregnant with ‘stuff’, men you have to go find some cool place to savour that book. I was fortunate to have a trip planned for the next day although I wasn’t so decided yet. Well, that book sealed it for me. Whatever thing I had planned to do during that trip was going to take second stage because I had to savour that book and finish it before or else…

I am going to be very honest with you, not because I know Dyane online, but because I laughed so much while reading that book – I just want to recommend it to you before I even tell you more. I am going to do three posts on that epic memoir just to tell you how much it got into me…

In this first post, I’ll share the pictures of my reading cocoon and the beauty of the day even when I got back to the home I was hosted in with the boys. In my next post on this memoir, I will share the reasons (not related to the main topic of the memoir) which make me advice you to get the memoir. The third post on this memoir will be focused on my review of the main topic of the memoir which is “mental illness” – “Postpartum Bipolar disorder” in Dyane’s case. Thank you already so much Dyane for loving and trusting me enough to send me an ARC of your epic memoir. My hats off to you after all you’ve been through and still go through, to find it in you to finally write this memoir and in that style. Reading truly takes me roaming & roving

Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th.

It’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales arriving this summer!

And the boys also got a blast at our host, a highschool friend of mum’s whose husband and her are befittingly called Papa and Mami by my siblings and I. The boys call Mami, Icecream Grandma because she has a big icecream venture. They negotiate to visit there at least 3 times a year. Look at the pictures:

Ain’t all that wonderful? It was a well deserved break for me afterall, Dyane’s epic memoir topped it all for me… I am so grateful.

Wishing us all a happy and cozy week ahead

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Book Review: Bipolar 1 Disorder : How to Survive and Thrive by Molly Mchugh


bipolar-1-disorder-how-to-survive-and-thrive-by-molly

A mental illness definitely strips a person of so much; yet there is hope!!!

Introduction

I wish to begin my candid review of this epic memoir by expressing my gratitude to Molly for having stuck through with writing this memoir. She kept this dream alive for 20 years and I find this generous. Generous also because of all she shares in there – from a very personal and equally professional perspective. Here is someone who fell sick; lost her mind on some occasions; got diagnosed with one of those dreaded labels; witnessed the system’s ‘stagnancy approach to mental health’ from both sides (as a care worker and as a mental health consumer’, and was ‘kindly’ harassed into withdrawing from medical studies with no one held accountable. But, the deal for me is reading on to find out how she survived and is now thriving as best as she can. I have learnt so much not only from reading Molly’s memoir, but also from interacting with her online.

The personal narration

Brought up a catholic, Molly probably knows the dogma of retribution being a direct consequence of our sins or ‘short comings’. It is easier to blame a mental illness on the person suffering same, or their family and upbringing. In this respect, a lot of prayers are said by the family of such a person in total faith and hoping for a miracle. This is some of Molly’s journey although this approach doesn’t work out well and Molly goes from one misadventure to the next. Her personal narration equally covers her ‘merry go round’ with the search for ‘balancing the chemistry’ in her brain through some psychotropic drugs with each having its of pros and huge cons. Physical ailments join in the mix or maybe were even there all along and just can’t take the toxic chemical assail any more without crying foul. Molly is lucky to find a doctor or two who is patient and thoughtful enough to go to the bottom of her physical predicaments to prescribe some alternative treatments. These alternative treatments, including those Molly researched by herself and even natural ones like the sun and thyroid supplement, are all part of the big wrap which enable Molly to survive her Bipolar 1 diagnosis and eventually thrive.

The Scientific narration

Molly’s memoir is not only about her personal journey, it is also about a lot of scientific information and material the average mental health patient and yes even some doctor may be unaware of. Molly shares insights into her research both off and online in her quest to better understand what the ‘heck’ is going on in her brain and life. She also makes a strong and corroborated case for the need for both the scientific and mental health community to be and stay informed of the evolution of psychology, psychiatry and pharmacology mindful of the giant pharmaceutical industry. Molly seems to point out something I had baffled at when I visited the US – Mental illness seems to be all about pills regardless of how bleak statistics are turning in. Fortunately, there are voices of hope out there, although they may be threatened a drown – they are there.

The debilitating narration

I refrained from including this under Molly’s personal narration because it seems to be the trend for many suffering from a mental illness. That mental before the big word illness does so much disservice to the person, their family and even community as a whole – perplexedly unlike with physical illness. Once you get a mental illness diagnosis be it of bipolar 1; 2; Schizophrenia; borderline… you name them, a lot is stripped off you. If you are lucky to be treated as a human being any more, you still come to realize you belong to the category next to guinea pigs or pets for whom either despise or exaggerated pity is the new kindness. There is so much stigma and the community is hyped with fear of this mental ‘nuts’ roaming the streets instead of being locked up for good. You learn very quickly to not mention the word mental again if not relationships will keep being jeopardized.

My appreciation

This is one more of those books I wish I had read a few years ago because it would have helped me and a sibling. The book is very easy to read because of the simple English used and even the anecdotes to fruits in the scientific narratives. Molly’s sense of humour probably helps her survive and thrive, but it will sure keep the reader interested in reading till the end. Although a mental illness strips a patient of so much, it is possible to face the ‘mental beast’ head on as Molly has done. Indeed, she has not only brought into the world a healthy and full of energy young man now in his young adulthood, but she has been able to go back to finish college and start a freelance career in communication. She is over ten years from her last hospitalization and is ageing gracefully. Who says there is no hope once you get a mental illness diagnosis? Read on, I whole heartedly recommend this memoir and give it a 5/5.

About Molly

molly-and-son

Molly is much more about bipolar than I could do her justice. Here is a glimpse in her own words; check out her website for your freelance writer jobs:

I’m Molly, your go-to gal to get your online writing project done with content that informs, is well-researched, SEO optimized and engages your audience. I will manage your writing projects while you focus on more important things such as running your business. Let me know what type of content you need for what format (blog, website, newsletter) and I will get it done.

You can get detailed information about each of my specialized services here: Blogging, E-books, Website Content, White Papers.

Book Review: Peace from Broken Pieces by Iyanla Vanzant


peace-from-broken-pieces

Hello world, My Biological clock is ticking (turn 38 next week by Grace); and peace is my number one top priority at all times now. I admit to having several broken pieces in my life – heck still do so much and they sometimes just poke up and make me bawl my eyes out all over again. I was thus very excited to pick up this other soulful memoir by Iyanla Vanzant one of my all time favorite – No nonsense authors. I mean, I cried again when I read one of her other power books titled Yesterday I Cried – Here, you can find my review of that one. I have had it for almost two years now but I guess it wasn’t time for a review. I even mentioned the book in my own personal journey to uncovering the source of my peace.

When I look at my notes from the book, I can share some of the most poignant I made:

  1. …I didn’t know anything about rebound relationships. I didn’t know that it takes a respectable amount of time for one person to get over another person and come to a place of completion… (Neither did I and it’s barely 3 months I finally knew and got there);
  2. …One powerful lesson I learned from him was that just because a man is a good man, it does not mean that he knows how to be a good partner ( my comment on that note says it all: woah, similar to what l wrote about mine);
  3. When two broken people bring their broken pieces together, chances are they will never become a whole anything. (very high chances I think too);
  4. Unworthiness always puts you in debt to anyone and everyone who shows you the slightest degree of attention or love or energy. Eventually, in this form of bankrupt relationship, your benefactors will demand or expect more than you are able or willing to give. This is the precise moment they will choose to call in the loan; (I can relate 99.99%);
  5. When you do not believe that who you are and what you do is good enough, that message will contaminate everything you do. When doubt is present in your consciousness it indicates a much more profound problem. It is a story that we tell ourselves about who we are and what we do and do not deserve in life. Your personal lie is a function of all of the broken pieces of your puzzle—all of the elements of your history, all of your experiences, all that you have been taught about yourself merging with all that you have made up about yourself. 

And now three lessons she shared which helped her find peace amidst all those broken pieces

  1. Until and unless you know that you are enough just the way you are, you will always be driven to look for more. Knowing that you are enough is a function of consciousness. Your enough-ness develops in direct proportion to the relationship you have with your true identity. Until you wholeheartedly believe in your own worth, in spite your of accomplishments and possessions, there will be a void in your Spirit. I had more than a void. (here is my comment: this is what l wanted);
  2. When you are starting your life over, with a new sense of self, who you once were is going to challenge you. Who you once were is going to dangle old carrots, old wounds and issues, in front of your face. When that happens, you will be tempted to revert to old feelings, old patterns of thought, and old patterns of behavior. When, however, you have made up your mind that the old you is dead and buried, when you have embraced a certain level of clarity about who you are and are not, as well as who you are choosing to be, you have a different response;
  3. “When you can tell the story and it doesn’t bring up any pain, you know it is healed.” (I got there Amen)

This really is the best way I can review this book – I broke down again so sourly two days ago, and bawled myself to instant sleep just where I was – I got up and with so much unconditional love and support – I decided to stick by the new response to ME and my Life. A big gratitude among others to Iyanla Vanzant and memoirs of hers like this one. I can’t rate this book any less than a 5/5: written in such down to earth english – so personal – so fine to read without a break.

About the Author

iyanla-vanzant

There isn’t anything I can say about Iyanla which isn’t everywhere and I mean including on O. here is a snipet from her website:

“What I have learned from all of the difficulties in my own life is that human beings have very thick skin. I call that skin, spirit, our Highest Most Powerful self. Spirit is the key to everything we desire. It is our weather-proofing, our Teflon, our line of credit that assures if we just keep putting one foot in front of the other, one day; there will be a miraculous payoff.”

Visit her website and there you’ll find all the links you need to that great woman described as: ” one who embodies a no-nonsense approach in her message and teaching style. Outspoken, fiery, transparent, truthful, and sage-like”.